New Paper on the “Papers” Page

Well, I still have not been able to find the time to write much here on TLW lately. But I do manage to change my gravatar image sometimes. 🙂 And I do actually change my “Quote of the Week” — sometimes after a week or so and sometimes several times in a week.
Oh, and I’ve also added another paper to my “Papers” page. This one is my “Textworld Inerrancy” paper, the one that got me in trouble at a Christian school where I was teaching. 🙂

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12 thoughts on “New Paper on the “Papers” Page

  1. What on earth did they find objectionable? I certainly don’t see anything in this paper that would compel me to label you a heretic. Of course, I must be honest and admit that my views on theology were largely influenced by yours, having taken Bible from you in high school.

    I haven’t formally studied theology. My positive judgment of “Textworld Inerrancy” comes more from a subjective feeling of rightness than from informed assessment. I tend to think in terms of narrative, and because of that, I have no trouble conceptualizing Biblical truth in that way. As a writer, I could write one story a hundred different ways, from different points of view, with different sequencing of events, and still tell a story that is internally consistent in the way that matters. As I was reading your paper, I thought, the character, the Person, of Jesus Christ is so great that one gospel was not enough to contain Him!

    Do you ever feel like you want to convey something to another person, but what you want to convey is just beyond the bounds of human language, or the depth you want to express cannot be contained in a normal, explanatory fashion? At these times I, and I think many people, rely on metaphor or narrative. This is the way I view the Bible. The Bible contains something so vast, so important, that it had to be told through story in order for the message to get across. More than that, the Word had to become flesh, and the message became more than a message.

    I could go on and on about this, but I think my main point is that I agree with you, and this is one of my favorite subjects. While I can see how many people could disagree with your views, and even disagree passionately, I have a hard time understanding how anyone could call them heretic, given your obvious and unequivocal reverence for the sovereignty of God, and the Truth of His Son, Jesus Christ.

    Thank you for sharing! I was excited to read it.

    • Hey, Beth –
      I am doubly honored—first, that you have stopped by TLW again, and second, that you actually took the time to check out the paper. Let me respond directly to a couple of your questions/points:

      What on earth did they find objectionable?
      It is no matter of villainy on their part that they were deeply committed to a strong view of inerrancy somewhere between full inerrancy and absolute inerrancy (which are explained at the beginning of the paper). This is the fundamentalist heritage which we American evangelicals are born into. It is unusual, indeed, to find deeply committed evangelicals who really understand that the whole idea of “inerrancy” is quite a new phenomenon (only about a hundred years old) in the life and discussion of the church.
      What these gentlemen (whom I greatly appreciate and admire on other grounds, by the way) said of my paper and my “textworld inerrancy” position was that it was merely a clever way of saying that the Bible has errors. For my part, I said that their undying and uncritical devotion to full inerrancy was merely a commitment to a modernist worldview which basically believes that truth is always measurable in a laboratory.

      Do you ever feel like you want to convey something to another person, but what you want to convey is just beyond the bounds of human language, or the depth you want to express cannot be contained in a normal, explanatory fashion?
      In a word, YES! All the time! And I quite agree with your point here.
      Now, I have to say that I do not hold to the idea that God is unable to communicate Himself with clarity or accuracy. In fact, just this morning, I was responding to a friend who disbelieves certain things taught in the Bible (a literal hell for unbelievers, to be specific). In his writings, he has said, “The Bible can now be studied from a twentieth-first century [point of view], which can help us better understand its historical narratives and theological concepts” and “the advantage of increased knowledge in non-biblical areas like linguistics and archeology is that these help us better understand the ancient text & times.”
      Since the context of his saying these things is his rejection of certain biblical teachings, I wrote this to him:

      When I hear folks say that they have a hard time with the idea of the great love of God letting so many people go to hell, I feel the quandary right along with them. It certainly does seem to give us a nasty picture of God–in fact, it somehow seems beneath God not to be able to figure out a way to save more people–or even all people! But then, thinking in in very similar ways, I have to ask: What sort of God would we have who cannot seem to give a special book which we can rely on to tell us the truth? What kind of God He be, if His book is to be so fundamentally misunderstood until a very late hour in the course of history, when His human creatures have achieved the “advanced knowledge” necessary to figure out the real nature of what He was trying to get across? There is something Babylonian about the idea that it is OUR arts and sciences which hold the key to understanding God’s communication, rather than the other way around.
      Have you ever been in a conversation where your dialogue partner was not doing a good job of getting his/her point across, and you had to help them out? You express better than they do what it is that they are (clumsily?) trying to get at. When you do, relief plays across their face as they say, “Yes! That’s what I mean! Thank you!” Is that at all like the God who has communicated to us in these last days by a Son? Has He been fumbling around for millennia, trying to get His point across only to be rescued from His propensity to ham-handed delivery by the “advanced knowledge” of modern man?
      I’m not seeing it, brother… 🙂

      In the end, I find myself neither the ally of fundamentalist inerrantists nor more liberal errantist types. In my mind, both are too-low views of the word of God. One says God must adhere to western and logical categories of truth; the other says He has failed to do so. I say we should listen to God first, then begin to form ideas of what it means that His word is true.

      Thanks again, Beth! 🙂

      • You’re welcome! I think I read about 90% of your blog posts. I don’t always find the time to leave comments, but I am browsing often. 🙂

        I just wanted to clarify-I did not mean to imply that God is struggling to make Himself clear. What I meant was, the depth and breadth of what God is communicating to us through the Bible is so great that normal human language can hardly contain it. Story is the natural medium for such communication. The Bible IS narrative because the truth it contains cannot be expressed in any other way. Does that make sense? I think I’m having trouble communicating exactly what I mean. Perhaps I should write a short story about it and get back to you. 😉

      • Good idea on the short story thing! I didn’t think you were saying any of that nasty stuff about God. 🙂 I was actually clarifying *myself*. And it was fresh in my mind, because I had just written to my friend about it. He’s the one whose blog post I was responding to last month with my post called “A HELL of a Problem.” Yes, you are making perfect sense. I have believed for a long time that the Bible’s primary literary type is narrative, because story is an attribute of God like His omnipresence or His justice or his love or his infinity, etc. But I’m with you too.

  2. While your ideas mat not be highly orthodox, I’m not sure why they would get you in trouble. Regardless, it is a thought-provoking paper. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hey, Dylan —
      Thanks for stopping by TLW!
      On the way my paper caused me some trouble, see my reply to Beth above.
      I hope you’ll continue to leave comments here!
      Shalom!

      • Ah, this is whete my post-modern worldview gets me in trouble. I look at most debates and question my own perceptions of the world, and often forget that is not a value shared by my modern brithers and sisters.

      • Hey, Dylan — Sorry to take so long to reply to this. I’ve just posted something today that sort of explains why I have been kinda incommunicado. I find I live something of a Gulliver’s Travels kind of life in the church. In some circles, I’m seen as a maverick. In others, a traditionalist stick in the mud. Personally, I don’t believe either is true. But that’s often the perception. Hope to hear from you again soon, whether here on TLW, or in person, or otherwise! Shalom!

      • Hey, Dylan —
        Sorry to take so long to reply to this. I’ve just posted something today that sort of explains why I have been kinda incommunicado.
        I find I live something of a Gulliver’s Travels kind of life in the church. In some circles, I’m seen as a maverick. In others, a traditionalist stick in the mud. Personally, I don’t believe either is true. But that’s often the perception.
        Hope to hear from you again soon, whether here on TLW, or in person, or otherwise!
        Shalom!
        — KC

    • Yeah… I know what you mean. But you know?… It’s not like it used to be.
      I have refrained for a long time from making even slightly veiled references to Heritage here on TLW. The sad truth is that, for a very long time, I was still dealing with a lot of bitterness and other junky spiritual stuff in that regard.
      When I first thought of starting a blog, I thought I would use it as a platform from which to put forward the “truth” about HCS and what happened there and how wicked it all was, etc. But the Lord did not let me start a blog then. By the time He did, I had received just enough clarity to know that I should leave that whole matter aside and just go on with new thoughts–or at least ones that bear no direct relationship to HCS.
      The Lord has been good enough to stick with me through it all. And really have none of that junk left in my heart–as far as I can tell, anyway. I will defer to the Holy Spirit and to others who know and love me to say whether that’s actually true.
      For a long time, I suffered under the illusion that the most important things were for the HCS and Hillsboro communities to understand the truth and justice that I “understood” so clearly throughout that time. (See current quote of the week [as of 1/24/11].)
      But I realize that the really important things have been of this sort:
      1) for ME to learn of His grace and forgiveness, both FOR me and THROUGH me to those with whom I fought at HCS,
      2) for ME to learn that I was more than a little bit at fault for what happened there, and
      3) for ME to learn to walk with the Lord Jesus Christ through such dark valleys.
      Thanks, my brother! 🙂
      Love you!

  3. Wow, thanks for sharing the really good pape (Newsies). I eat this stuff up, not to blindly subscribe to, but to consider and meditate on as the Lord grows my minuscule spiritual wisdom.

    Man I got so much to talk to you about brother.

    Shalinki Shalom,

    -James

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